Live Music + Gig Reviews

Of Montreal @ Cargo, London

29 May 2007

Of Montreal

Of Montreal

You could quite easily paint a picture in your head of what Of Montreal might be like as a live act. Psychedelic synth loops, drum machines and a hefty dose of upbeat glam rock pepper their records.

You’d expect a melee of outlandish outfits on stage, a party atmosphere to match the cheap keyboard demo, fun park melodies and more than a fistful of character. Aurally, they sound like the band from Jabba the Hut’s desert cruiser bar in Return of The Jedi, fronted by Marc Bolan.

In the flesh, it’s even more flamboyant. They arrive onstage tonight attired in, amongst other things, a sequin festooned suit with angel wings, a Russian style bear furred hat and a three-piece yellow suit. And we’ve not even touched on the leggings and costume changing antics of front man Kevin Barnes. But, esoteric appeal aside, it’s the music of Of Montreal which is they’re real asset: we’re talking some of the best fun-rock you are ever likely to hear, a wonderful jamboree of sixties British pop, Beach Boys harmonies and lounge space-funk interludes, a spectacle for both the eyes and ears.

Tonight they switch between material from new album Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer? And earlier work, the latter being more straight up pop-rock in the vein of Bowie in his Ziggy faze, combined with T Rex or The Kinks. On Your Magic Is Working or I was Never Young, they are the quintessential American group obsessed with sixties Britain.

But their newer work carries a more interesting element. A bit more angst, a bit more pomp and a lot more party in their pouncing. She’s A Rejecter is the first time tonight they really get the London crowd moving. It’s a glorious mess of off kilter drums, funky guitar and vocals that wail like a banshee around Cargo.

Bunny Ain’t No Kind Of Rider is typical of their latest sound: switching from rising drum machine loops, looping bass lines, pop breakdowns and a huge backside shaking chorus line. But the piece de resistance is Gronlandic Edit. Barnes hoists himself into a ten-foot clown costume at the front of the stage and does his best to project on to the crowd over a funky bass line. It’s absurd, but nothing short of expected really.

Towards the end tonight they cover ‘one of our favourite bands’ The Kinks All Day And All Of The Night, to a rapturous reception, another example of being able to switch between the more obtuse elements of their music and straight up rock by numbers. A great live show, insane mixture of style, substance, grandeur, and easy comparisons to rock legends? Not your average band then, but an act that drips with this much talent and showmanship and makes you think of Star Wars is a rare animal indeed. Go see for yourself.

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